I sat at the bistro table in front of the café, watching the sun move toward the horizon, drowning my sorrows as my wine glass sat half empty. I refused to cry. It had been a hard week, losing the promotion I had fought so hard to gain, and then Jerry! He told me that the seven years we had been together had been wonderful, but he saw no future for us. “There is nothing to gain for either of us in staying together,” he had shared. We were wasting our time he’d whispered to me, his words deafening.
I did not foresee the week getting any worse, but raindrops began falling from the sky and then down my cheeks, as if I’d broken an oath not to weep. I gathered my plate and silverware and grabbed the glass of wine before running inside to look for a vacant seat. The café was full, but I turned to find an empty chair at the table where an elderly man sat reading his newspaper.
“Sir, do you mind if I sit here at your table?”
Folding over his paper, he smiled. “Why, please, sit down.”
As he refolded his newspaper, I set down my lunch and seated myself.
“Looks like this summer storm ruined your day,” said the gentleman. “By the way, my name is Leonard. Leonard Cohen.”
“It was not the rain that ruined my day,” I snapped before looking up, before it registered what I had heard.
“Forgive me. I am Susan,” offering my hand, which he took graciously and shook. I met his eyes and sized up this gentleman. Was he the Leonard Cohen? He looked like he could be, but I was not certain. This man was older, I believe.
“So what brings you do Austin, Leonard? Or do you live here?” I queried, hoping for a clue.
“I am here visiting my niece. She is going to college, here at the university.”
“That is nice.” I distractedly noticed, around me, the quaintness of the small café, the crisp white tablecloths, the soft clinking of the glasses behind the dark wood of the bar. As I finished my sandwich, Leonard said he had traveled to Austin from New York, and he proceeded to share the excursions he had had in Austin with his niece, Marianne. I finished my sandwich, listening to his stories, heeding his voice for a tone of recognition.
“So, Susan, what do you do here in this lovely city?”
“Well, this week I believe I’m treading water. Been a bad week. But, beyond that, I work for an educational company, writing curriculum and editing textbooks for the language arts programs. Nothing exciting, but I enjoy the work.”
“That is good. I find the key is truly in giving of one’s talents, embracing what your work gives to others. It sounds like you are doing that if you relish your work, as you say.”
For a moment I pondered what he had said. He was right. I did love my work, what I did every day. That promotion would have increased my pay, but managing the department would have taken me away from the work, from creating the magic to arouse learning. Leonard’s words were truth.
Outside, the sun peered from behind the clouds, the rain had drizzled and cleared, the sky washed in pink and orange hues of the sunset painting a new horizon.
“Your words ring true for me, Leonard. Labor born of passion becomes a legacy; it’s a gift, is it not?”
Leonard smiled at me as he pored more wine in my glass. I took a sip of the sweetness and gazed at my glass, now half full.
“The miracles are everywhere,” he said. “Do not wait for your miracle to come.” He winked at me as I smiled wide, my heart open.
© 2014 Sandra Fox Murphy. All rights reserved.